Nutrition, Sleep and Training Tips

Delmar Track and Field, Cross Country Distance Runner Nutrition, Sleep and Training Tips, and Practice and Meet Supplies

Below is summary of nutrition, distance running, meet and running supplies, and Junior Olympic registration tips based upon the experiences of Bill Davis, a coach, team registrar, and high school and collegiate distance runner.

Consistency with proper nutrition, running training and supplies (shoes and proper clothing), communication with coaches, and attending practices and meets/participating in the marathon club will result in positive running development.   The best running shoes are available at Olympia Sports in Delmar for new or young runners, or Fleet Feet in Colonie for experienced runners.  Additional articles on running for kids is found at:

Nutrition and Sleep:

The timing of hydration and eating is important for distance runners.  A regular sleeping schedule is also important for distance runners.

It is advised to eat a small meal such as a sandwich, nutrition bar, and fruit no later than 2 ½ to 3 hours before practice and meets, and eat healthy and balanced meals, and water only on race days.  Fruits such as banana, grapes, and oranges may be eaten up to 1 to 1 ½ hours before practice or race.  Athletes should hydrate with water only on race and practice days up to 1 hour before the run.  Desserts, carbonated beverages, fried foods, and surgery drinks are to be avoided the day before and on meet days and practices.  Electrolyte and recovery drinks are recommended after races and practices, but not before.  Electrolyte drinks should be diluted with water if this is the preferred pre-run drink.  Complex carbohydrates such as pastas, bread, waffles, pancakes, sandwich, nutrition bars, and oatmeal the day before and on race days are recommended.  Increased protein intake (fresh or frozen, but not fried) is recommended after a race or hard run.

For sleep, some meets require waking up or racing as early as 8:30 AM.  For early AM trips or meets, the athlete should plan to allow for at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep or age appropriate sleep for younger children, or specific to your child’s needs.  There are many articles on this subject at runners world here:  For children, WebMd has recommendations here:

Distance Training for New and Experienced Runners:

New Runners should start distance training slowly and share how they feel with the coaches and parents.  Runners should have distance running shoes with adequate support, and change running shoes once per season (spring, summer, and fall).  Signs of wear are worn or uneven soles, or foot/ankle discomfort.

Delmar Cross Country groups runners accordingly to an initial fitness test, and runners will be moved to an appropriate group to help with progress.  The most common early runner challenges are stomach cramps, and tired or heavy legs and lungs.  Walking or rest is the best solution.  Our experience has shown that stomach cramps are most often caused by mistimed meals eaten immediately before practice or meet, or drinking too much water or electrolyte drink right before a run.  In some cases, the runner started too fast.  If you cannot talk without gasping for air, then the runner should slow down.

Experienced Runners or those participating in the marathon club should record all running time, how you feel on each run, and have a watch to record time run, or a GPS watch to record time, distance and pace.  A running log will be distributed, and parent encouragement is required to ensure safety on extra runs.  The initial focus should be on time run, and a pace that is comfortable to talk while running.  Increases should not exceed 10% time or distance from one week to the next, or 1 extra day of training.  The new time run or distance should be run for at least 2 weeks, and athletes should talk with a coach with a training log in hand before further increases.  If a week is taken off, then the runner should first speak with the coach before running again.  A general rule is to run 10 to 20% less (time or miles) per run or week if time has been taken off.  The purpose is to avoid injuries that are most often caused by inconsistent training, increasing running distance too soon, or old, worn, or incorrect running shoes.

New and experienced runners will also be exposed to a long run, interval run, pacing run, threshold run, hill runs, and tempo runs.  As athletes demonstrate the skill and ability to understand the purpose of each type of run, further development will be discussed directly with the parent/athlete for competitive development for Junior Olympic regional or national races. Athlete development is parent/child driven, and not forced upon our children at Delmar Track and Field.

Meet and Running Supplies:

Practice supplies include running shoes; appropriate running clothing; water; and watch with timer.

Meet supplies include team uniform shirt and running shoes; Delmar club meet itinerary or schedule; synthetic running shorts that are mid-thigh (not basketball shorts); course map; race spikes for experienced runners only;  plenty of water and healthy snacks, lunch, and recovery food; money for concession stand or meet shirts; and pop-up tent or lawn chairs.  Generally, watches are not allowed in track/cross country meets.

General Registration Tips:

The club registers all athletes that will be announced.  For Junior Olympic meets in November, all athletes must be age verified.  Details on age verification will be emailed to families.

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